Radiology Question for the Week of April 1, 2024


A computed tomography (CT) study of the temporal bones in the axial plane is followed by a CT study of the temporal bones in the coronal plane. Which code or codes should be reported?


The temporal bones, which are situated on the sides and base of the skull, are part of the posterior fossa (a small space in the skull located near the brain stem and cerebellum). Therefore, for a CT study of the temporal bones, it would be appropriate to report one of the computed tomography orbit, sella and/or posterior fossa or outer, middle, or inner ear codes (70480-70482) based on the use or absence of contrast material. When the images are directly acquired in multiple planes (i.e., axial, coronal, sagittal, etc.), the appropriate CT study code is reported once. Two-dimensional reformatting (e.g., coronals) has been considered as included in the base CT procedure code and not reported separately. Only in rare instances when two separate and distinct examinations have been performed at two different sessions (e.g., a second coronal study later the same day to evaluate a complication of surgery) and are medically indicated would it be appropriate to report one of the previously mentioned codes twice.

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